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Mental Health and Asian Americans

  • Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for Asian Americans, and also was the 10th leading cause of death for White Americans, in 2009.1
  • Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over age 65 in the United States.2
  • Southeast Asian refugees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with trauma experienced before and after immigration to the U.S. One study found that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care were diagnosed with PTSD.3
  • For Asian Americans, the rate of serious psychological distress increases with lower levels of income, as it does in most other ethnic populations.
  • The overall suicide rate for Asian Americans is half that of the White population.

 

MENTAL HEALTH STATUS

Serious psychological distress among adults 18 years of age and over, percent, 2009-2010

Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
1.6
3.1
0.5

Source: CDC, 2012. Health United States, 2011. Table 59.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf [PDF | 9.4MB]

 

Serious psychological distress among adults 18 years of age and over, percent of poverty level, 2008-2010

 
Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Below 100%
3.3
10.7
0.3
100%-less than 200%
--
5.5
--
200% or greater
0.9
1.9
0.5

Source: CDC. Health Data Interactive.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hdi.htm. [Accessed 07/07/2012].

 

Percent of population with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or that everything is an effort, all of the time, among persons 18 years of age and over, 2010

 
Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Sadness
1.9
2.8
0.7
Hopelessness
1.3
2.0
0.7
Worthlessness
0.8
1.7
0.5
Everything is an effort
4.0
5.6
0.7

Source:  CDC 2012. Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: 2010. Table 14.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_252.pdf [PDF | 3.1MB]

 

Percent of population with feelings of nervousness or restlessness, among persons 18 years of age and over, 2010

 
Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Nervousness, all or most of time
1.8
4.9
0.4
Restlessness, all or most of time
2.4
6.4
0.4

Source:  CDC 2012. Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: 2010. Table 16.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_252.pdf [PDF | 3.1MB]

 

Age-adjusted percent distributions of adults 18 years of age and over, with serious psychological distress, most or all of the time, 2004–2006

Population
Serious distress
Ratio / All Asian Population
Ratio / Whites
All Whites
2.9
-
-
All Asians
1.9
-
1.7
Chinese
1.6
0.8
0.6
Filipino
2.5
1.3
0.9
Asian Indian
1.4
0.7
0.5
Japanese
1.1
0.6
0.4
Vietnamese
2.5
1.3
0.9
Korean
1.3
0.7
0.4
Other Asian & NHOPI*
2.6
1.4
0.9

Source: CDC, 2008. Health Characteristics of the Asian Adult Population: United States, 2004-2006. Table 7.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad394.pdf [PDF, 476KB]

 

DEATH RATES

Age-Adjusted Death Rates for suicide, by sex, race and Hispanic Origin, 2009

 
Asian/Pacific Islander
Non-Hispanic White
Asian/Pacific Islander /Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
9.2
23.2
0.4
Female
3.8
6.0
0.6
Total
6.3
14.3
0.4

Source:  CDC, 2012. National Vital Statistic Report. Vol. 60, Num 3 Table 17 and Table 16.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf [PDF | 2MB]

 

Age-adjusted death rates for suicide, by race, 2009

Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
6.3
14.3
0.4

Source: CDC, 2012. Health United States, 2011. Table 24.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf [PDF | 9.8MB]

 

Death rates for suicide, age, race and Hispanic origin, 2009: Men

 
Asian American Men
Non-Hispanic White Men
Asian American Men/ Non-Hispanic White Men Ratio
15-24 years
9.6
18.9
0.5
25-44 years
10.1
28.8
0.4
45-64 years
12.7
33.7
0.4
65 years and over
15.4
33.1
0.5
All ages
9.2
23.2
0.4

Source: CDC, 2012. Health United States, 2011. Table 39.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf [PDF | 9.8MB]

 

Death rates for suicide, age, race and Hispanic origin, 2009: Women

 
Asian American Women
Non-Hispanic White Women
Asian American Women/ Non-Hispanic White Women Ratio
15-24 years
5.3
4.0
1.3
25-44 years
4.2
8.1
0.5
45-64 years
5.0
10.6
0.5
65 years and over
4.8
4.5
1.1
All ages
3.8
6.0
0.6

Source: CDC, 2012. Health United States, 2011. Table 39.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf [PDF | 9.8MB]

 

ADOLESCENTS

Death Rates for Suicide: Ages 15 - 19, 2009

 
Asian/Pacific Islander
Non-Hispanic White
Asian/Pacific Islander /Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
7.5
14.0
0.5
Female
4.2
3.5
1.2
Total
5.9
8.9
0.7

Source:  CDC, 2012. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Accessed 07/07/2012]
http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html

 

Suicidal ideation among students in grades 9-12, 2009
Percent of students who seriously considered suicide


 
Asian
Non-Hispanic White
Asian/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men
17.1
12.8
1.3
Women
21.1
18.4
1.1
Total
18.9
15.5
1.2

Source: CDC, 2012. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. [Accessed 07/07/2012]
http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline

 

Suicidal ideation among students in grades 9-12, 2009 Percent of students who attempted suicide

 
Asian
Non-Hispanic White
Asian
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men
7.0
4.6
1.5
Women
15.0
7.9
1.9
Total
10.8
6.2
1.7

Source: CDC, 2012. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. [Accessed 07/07/2012]
http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline

 

ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

Percent of Adults age 18 and over who received mental health treatment or counseling in the past year, 2008

 
Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
-
10.8
-
Female
4.4
20.8
0.2
Total
4.5
16.0
0.3

Source:  2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report. Table 17_3_1.2a and 2b
http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr10/index.html

 

Percent of Adults age 18 and over who received prescription medications for mental health treatment or counseling, 2008

 
Asian American
Non-Hispanic White
Asian American/ Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
-
9.1
-
Female
-
18.3
-
Total
3.4
13.9
0.2

Source:  2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report. Table 17_3_3.2a and 2b
http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr10/index.html

NOTE: *NHOPI = Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.


1CDC, 2011. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Accessed 07/07/2012] http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html

2U.S. Surgeon General, 2001. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44251

3NIH, National Diabetes Education Program, 2006. Silent Trauma: Diabetes, Health Status, and the Refugee: Southeast Asians in the United States. http://ndep.nih.gov/media/SilentTrauma.pdf [PDF | 2.3MB]
Last Modified: 9/18/2013 9:58:00 AM